That last kind of parenting has nothing to do with raising your children right and everything to do with covering your ass. "Look at me! Look how shocked I am. I don't approve of my child. I'm just as surprised as you, and I simply won't stand for it." It's disgraceful. This is a parent who more greatly values the approval of strangers than their child's trust.
Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"Are these strangers more important to me than my child? Hmmmm. Don't rush me!"
These public shamings are nothing more than the attempt of embarrassed parents to wash their hands of their children. Parenting is hard. Your children will do good and bad things for which you deserve absolutely no credit or blame. And sometimes there is a direct link between your parenting and their behavior. But regardless, people are shit, and, yes, you will often be blamed or credited for every single thing your kid does. That's true. The thing to do with that is to not care. It's not your job to care about people and their perceptions. This is your child. Your child, who never asked to be born. A child who is in your home because of you. If you let that child know that a single waiter or, heaven forbid, the World Wide Web's opinion is more important to you than their trust, what do you think will happen? What child would then worry about disappointing a parent who holds them in such little regard when compared to their own reputation?
Parenting Is Too Complicated for the Internet
You've probably heard it said that parenting is just the hardest job there is, and that's almost true. Parenting well is the hardest job. You have to stay attuned to your children and their needs. But more accurate than being complicated, parenting is just messy. There are so many decisions to make, and sometimes you can make the wrong decisions even with good intentions. You can apply tough love to a child who just needs understanding or show compassion to a bad seed who needs to be set straight. Being a parent means screwing up. You just will. Even if you want to be good with all your heart, you will totally blow some calls.
"Baby offsides! Five-yard penalty!"
The good news is that it's not fatal. One decision typically doesn't make you a good or bad parent, because everything you do is in the context of a lifetime spent with your child. It's very hard for anyone to judge your decisions without seeing every moment of your family's life. People should know better than to judge parents on a snapshot of their parenting.
Unless it's this snapshot.
But you know what? The same goes for children. Sure, maybe you did catch your daughter cyberbullying. Maybe what she did was awful. Maybe in that moment you saw something so utterly repugnant that you thought it made sense to do everything in your power to snuff it out. So you took a picture of the sin, isolated it, and held it up for display. And then you put it online or you put your child out in public with a sign where you knew the Net would make a story out of it. But does that tell the spectators the whole story? Are you really relying on the Net to understand the intricacies of your child's sins? The Internet is good at lolcats and pornography. Do you expect it to ask the next questions, like is this child bullying because she's bullied at home? Is this child stealing because he's trying to buy things to fill the empty spaces where love should be? Does the disrespectful child have parents worthy of respect? No, the Internet typically doesn't ask the deeper questions. And come to think of it, parents who try to convince the world that they're doing their job by selling out their children as sinners are probably counting on that.
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